By Janet Wallace • April 21, 2010•Writers in Residence
Note: On January 1, my husband and I made a resolution for the New Year: we would move to California's Central Coast before the end of 2010. This series chronicles the career component of our journey as I attempt to make connections, build a network, and, hopefully (fingers crossed!), find a legal job in the next twelve months. Here are the first and second posts in the series.
Last fall, I had a job interview in a city that I knew, even then, that I didn't want to move to. I remember driving into the city, wondering what I was even doing in a place that I surely would want to leave as soon as practicably possible. Was I really this willing to settle, just for a job?
I had rehearsed my answer to the all-important question that certainly would be asked: why here? The truth was, while I wanted a job, I really didn't want a job in that city. So, I did what law students across the country do every OCI season, I faked it with a scripted answer. Sure, my answer was carefully crafted and mostly true, but it was also largely insincere. And, I'm fairly certain that, when the question was ultimately asked at the interview, my insincerity showed. I'm just not that good of an actress. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.
A few weeks ago, I visited one of the Central Coast cities on our (very) short list of places to move. I set up several informational interviews with alumni in the area to learn more about living and working on California's coast. At each interview, the question was inevitably asked: why here? And, in complete contrast to my earlier experience, I had a sincere response to the question. I didn't need to formulate an answer based on tenuous connections. I didn't need to rehearse phony enthusiasm. I just had to be myself. Let me just say: it is far, far easier to deliver sincerity than it is to deliver a prepared line--and the response I received was far, far more positive.
Of course, it is not at all surprising that the reaction I received when expressing authentic enthusiasm was exceedingly more favorable than the reaction I received while feigning interest in various uninteresting jobs and places. The value of authenticity seems an easy enough concept to grasp, but one that seems suspiciously absent from the law school job search. Finally, I feel like I'm looking for a good fit by just being myself. My mom is gonna be so proud.
Update: This was the third article in a series about moving to the California's Central Coast. If you are interested in following the journey, here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and final posts in this series.